Tag archives for Holidays

Red Sauce with Clams and Mussels


Joe and I have been alternating holidays since we started dating and this year, Christmas Eve was meant to be spent with my family.  We decided to host Christmas Eve dinner for a few reasons: 1) my mom had her annual family Christmas party this past Friday, 2) she would be hosting Christmas dinner, and 3) Staten Island is a mid-point for my family.  It was nice to take on the responsibility of hosting a major holiday but also, slightly terrifying.

In hopes of doing things right, we decided to attempt the feast of seven fishes.  Granted, we didn’t actually use 7 types of seafood (we only made it to four) but it’s the thought that counts.  Today I’ll be sharing our recipe for a red sauce with mussels and clams.  I promise it’s a simple recipe that is easy to do and will definitely impress your guests!

Red Sauce with Clams and Mussels | Popcorn on the Stove

Red Sauce with Clams and Mussels


  • 4 Cans of red sauce
  • 1 Net of mussels
  • 1 Net of clams
  • 3 Whole garlic cloves
  • 3 Chopped garlic cloves
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and black pepper to taste

Prep work: Before doing anything, you’ll need to go out and buy some fresh mussels and clams – just a net of each.  We waited until Sunday to make our purchase since we would be using them the next day.  We just tossed them into a bowl (kept in nets) and let them hang out in the fridge.


1)  Start preparing the marinara sauce.  To do this, start by adding olive oil to the bottom of a heated pot (low heat).  When the oil heats up, add the chopped and whole garlic clove until they brown.  Then add the four cans of tomato sauce.  Stir it all up and let it sit.

2)  Once the marinara sauce is done, you can either let it cool and store it in your refrigerator (which is what we did to make our lives simpler on Monday), or you can continue with the recipe.

3)  While the marinara sauce is simmering, you can start the prep work for the mussels and clams.  When you’re going to get ready to cook them, scrub each clam and drop it into a bowl of water for 20 minutes.  For the mussels, you just have to scrub and de-beard them.  While you’re cleaning the seafood, toss out anything with a cracked/broken shell or won’t close (to check that, just tap them – the healthy ones will close quickly).

4)  Once the marinara sauce is boiling and the seafood is prepped, you can start dropping them into the pot.  The clams and mussels will start opening.  If they don’t, go ahead and toss them out.

5)  When you’re almost ready to eat, boil a pot of water and drop in either linguine or thin spaghetti (really, whichever pasta you prefer) and  cook according to the box’s instructions.

6)  To serve, scoop the seafood out of the sauce, and toss it into a bowl (this way, your guests can choose how much and what seafood they’d like) and pour some of the sauce on top of the pasta.  Don’t forget another bowl on the table for those empty shells :)

Have you tried out a new recipe lately?  Perhaps hosted a holiday for the first time?  Anyone able to make it to seven fish?

PS – You can see more of our recipes here.

Posted in Christmas, Details, Food, Holidays, Recipes | 2 Comments

There’s No Place Like Home for the Holidays

Wednesday night was spent tidying up and finalizing the Christmas decor in our living room.

Totally worth it.

I would keep the living room this way if it was socially acceptable (or if we lived in the North Pole).  It’s so festive and cheery.  As soon as I get home, I plug the window and tree lights in and just soak up all this Christmas cheer.


Late August was the last time I rearranged our bookcase so it was due for some TLC… and Christmas decor.  Perhaps I went overboard?


The three blind mice are back and causing mischief.  One of them believes he’s a photographer (I don’t have the heart to tell him that camera doesn’t have any film)…


… and another of the mice got stuck in a hurricane filled with ornaments and disco balls.  Silly mouse.


Pretty much all of the shelves were rearranged.  This quadrant of the bookcase is kind of the family/home section.  I can’t say that I’ve read all the books, but I have checked out my family’s name in the Families of Ireland book (they’re there, and it’s pretty cool).  I did spend one Saturday reading Nate Berkus’ The Things that Matter (which I had gotten after winning a giveaway on Erika‘s site) and oh my goodness, I loved it.  Such a good book… and it may or may not have been why I played around with the layout of the books.


Immediately to the right is another of our lovely penguins.  He (or she?) is very festive with a red bow.


Up above are some sentimental touches.  These wooden snowmen were given to me from a janitor I befriended when I was in elementary school (I shared the story last year when I first displayed them).  Seeing them makes me want to do good.


Another fun touch is our elf on the shelf, which was actually my mom’s growing up.  For the past couple of weeks, I have been moving him around the apartment and hiding him in different places – some of which I shared on instagram but all have been cracking me up.  Side note: if you are bored, you should go through the #elfontheshelf photos because some of them are hysterical.  Joe is slightly creeped out by our little elf but I love it.  I think that’s a pretty accurate representation of the public’s feelings on these elves: half are totally creeped out and half are totally into it.


Earlier in the week I shared our tree, but here it is again because I love it:


Rather than gush about it again, we’ll skip over that corner of the room and head to the next.  Joe had given me an easel for my birthday present so I decided to put it to good use and use it to display one of my grandfather’s paintings (which my nanny was so kind to give to me).  Prior to having the easel over there, this corner felt pretty empty so this is a very welcomed change.

Up above are some of our Christmas cards.  This is the week when they started showing up in the mail so I had to quickly think of how to display them.  Thanks to some white ribbon and tape for the vertical cards, I’ve been able to make a fun little display.  We just got another slew of Christmas cards yesterday so I’m going to add another string of cards someplace else in our apartment.  That’s to be determined.


I’m not going to try to hide that decorating our card catalog this year was quite the highlight for me.  As we still don’t have a mantle, our card catalog became just that thanks to the hook handles.  The stocking fall down sometimes but they look nice 90% of the time so I won’t complain.  You’ll also notice Santa and two of his elves climbing their ladder to deliver gifts in the stockings.  That’s something that I grew up with (it was either by the mantle or at the base of the tree) and my mom passed along to me.

Up above are a whole slew of Wintery items including a snow owl and penguin (of course they’re there).  I’ve also filled a hurricane with ornaments and our apothecary jar with berries – both have epsom salt so it looks like faux snow.  It’s very festive (and far more affordable than buying faux snow).  That poinsettia was given to me by a vendor I work with daily at my job, and that’s been for the past 4+ years (nicest group of guys, ever).  The wife’s boss even stopped by when it was delivered so she could meet me which I think is beyond sweet.



I kept thinks simple on our television stand because there is so much going on in the rest of the room.  Just a Lenox tree ornament that is too heavy to hang on a real tree, some kissing Christmas dogs, and a festive house I painted a few years ago.  Of course there are mini penguins that live in there.


So, that’s our big Christmas decor unveiling!  There are some little Christmas touches throughout the apartment but the rest of it is still sort of a disaster, which is why we’re not going there.  It’s okay though, because that is what this weekend is for (there will be a lot of cleaning, prepping, and baking/cooking).  Then I’m going to kick back and watch Love Actually.

Are you all decorated and ready to go for Christmas?  What’s your favorite item to display?  Anyone else hosting Christmas Eve or Christmas for the first time?

PS – Want to check out how we decorated the apartment last year?  You can check it out here!

Posted in Christmas, Details, Fun, Home, Living Room, Seasonal, Winter | 5 Comments

Our Second Christmas Tree

Remember last year when I told you that our Christmas tree was perfect?  That was before we got this tree (our judgement was clearly questionable as we were still in our “OMG WE’RE MARRIED” phase and I was over the moon about having a real tree again).  Last year, we did get lucky with our tree but I honestly feel like this tree is about a million times better, even if we do have to water it twice a day.

When we went to pick out a tree this year, I loved the first tree we pulled out.  The only problem is that this was a full tree.  It had a perfect tree shape but my goodness, it was giant in every direction… not to mention that it was $65.00.  No thank you.  I’m not sure how many trees we looked at but eventually we found a winner.  It’s pretty tall – maybe 7ish feet?  Don’t hold me to the exact measurement because I am not good with numbers.  We paid $55.00, which I wasn’t particularly happy about but it’s worth it in the long run (you can’t beat the smell of Christmas tree in the house).

We couldn’t put the tree in the same spot as last year because that’s where one of our card catalogs live, so instead we threw it in our reading corner.  It looks perfect there (though it doesn’t look that way in the photo below since it was taken right after we brought it in and it’s branches hadn’t dropped yet).


Joe was in charge of adding the lights…


…which of course look awesome when they’re the only lights on in the room…


…and that only gets better when it’s decorated (which Joe and I did together).  And when there are presents under it.  The presents are sadly hiding the tree skirt my parents donated to us this year.  I just can’t bring myself to spend upwards of $50.00 on something that gets hidden so quickly.


Here’s a shot of the tree decorated with the lights off (I am feeling so festive editing all these Holiday photos!):


Our tree doesn’t have a theme… unless sentimental is a theme.  We have the same star from IKEA we bought two years ago and I always wrap ribbon around the tree (which is something I borrowed from my mom) but everything else on the tree is sentimental.  All of our ornaments are either DIY’ed, ones that we bought for each other – either while on vacation or for Christmas, or what our parents have passed down to us.

One of my favorites DIY’ed ornaments is this one below.  I made this last year using a glass ornament and a poppy Joe and I had gotten on our honeymoon.


You can’t beat the charm of these old wooden ornaments, though.  All I know about them is that they’re from the 1980′s and I love them.


Last year, my aunt gave us six penguin ornaments after Christmas so I had to wait until this year to hang these guys.  The penguins are either silver, light blue, or dark blue but they all have glitter on their bellies.  Glitter + penguins = pretty much two of my favorite things.


We also got to hang up our wooly sheep ornament that we picked up on our Summer road trip to Richmond (which is also when we met Ashley and Jesse).  Next year, I should learn how to crochet ornaments, rather than just making scarves for everyone.


Do you have fun holiday traditions when it comes to decorating your Christmas tree?  Maybe you use sentimental ornaments like we do?  Perhaps you go with a different theme each year?  Or maybe the same theme each year?  Add a link to your tree (or other holiday items!) in the comments below so we can see which style you went with!

Posted in Christmas, Details, Winter | 6 Comments

For Her


{ one | two | three | four | five | six | seven }

1)  When I was in college, one of my friends gave me a beaded jewelry box, like the Coral Bells Jewelry Box from Anthropologie ($58.00) and I thought it was the best gift ever.  It’s one of those things you’d never buy for yourself – since they’re usually not cheap – but it’s something you’d appreciate because it will look good everywhere and keep your jewelry hidden.

2)  This time of year, there are holiday parties galore.  Keeping your nails looking nice until January 1st might cost you a pretty penny… unless you grab Sephora’s OPI Tinsel Town Collector Set ($49.50).  There are 16 mini colors and a regular glitter top coat – which is always fun! – which will offer plenty of options.

3)  It’s not really a secret that I love my J.Crew Factory Charley Sweater (on sale for $29.50).  It’s soft and cozy and I can’t imagine anyone not enjoying these colors.  Buy one of these for everyone you know, and of course, yourself.

4)  Macy’s has these great Giani Berini Love Knot Stud Earrings (on sale for $28.00), and I think they are the cutest.  I bet any girl would like them.  PS – they’re also available in sterling silver if that’s more your or your lady’s style.

5)  Cole Haan makes great purses and this Crosby Ali Mini Crossbody (on sale for $67.95) is a great gift.  The red is a fun color that I’m sure will match anything, and the bag is big enough that you can actually use it but not so big that it’s too heavy to carry.

6)  A couple of years ago, a friend of mine got me a pair of gloves for my birthday… but not just any gloves – these gloves were long.  I didn’t realize how great this would be until that first cold storm hit and my hands and arms were still warm.  That’s one reason I love these Banana Republic Cashmere Gloves ($79.50).  I also love them because they’re cashmere and that’s always a nice gift to give.

7)  This year, Joe and I splurged and I got my bicycle, Shelly.  It felt silly to spend so much on a bicycle but I loved having it and being able to ride along the boardwalk.  Cruisers are very comfortable bikes and they’re perfect for someone who hasn’t ridden in a long time and just wants to have a leisurely ride (I got myself a one-speed).  That’s why I think that this Bixby Cruiser Bicycle by Felt ($269.00) would be a great gift.  It’s something you two can do together, it provides exercise, and bikes like these get a lot of looks on the boardwalk.

PS – see my gift recommendations for him and the baker/chef in your life!

Posted in Christmas, Gifts, Winter | 3 Comments

Hot Chocolate


So today’s edition isn’t technically a craft, but it is something you make… and drink… and it involves chocolate.

Joe found this hot chocolate recipe over on Baked Bree and thought that this would be fun to do over the weekend.  It was the perfect idea since it was cold and rainy out.  Seeing as I’m impatient, I just heated up some soy milk and added my cocoa powder but Joe ended up taking some time to make his hot cocoa.  In fact, he changed it a bit so below is his version of this recipe.


Homemade Hot Chocolate


  • A bar of good chocolate (Joe used Lindt’s Smooth Dark 70% Cocoa)
  • 2 cups of whole milk or whatever you prefer
  • 1 tbsp (real) Maple syrup (or to taste)
  • A few drops of vanilla
  • A pinch of salt
  • Marshmallows


1)  Pour two cups of milk into a sauce pan and heat it up (it does not need to boil).


2)  Break up the bar of chocolate into small pieces.  You can do this by either using a knife and chopping it or using a mortar and pestle like we did.


3)  After the milk has heated up, start dropping the chocolate into the saucepan.


4)  Add the salt, vanilla, and maple syrup.


5) Whisk it all up.  In the beginning, it will be a lighter color but after a couple of minutes, it will get darker.



6)  Pour it into a mug…


7)  … and add some marshmallows.


8)  Enjoy!

Did you end up hiding away this weekend due to the weather?  Maybe started getting into the holiday spirit with things like hot cocoa or candy canes?  Are you a fan of big marshmallows or the tiny ones?  

PS – That mug was a gift someone gave to my dad back in the 80′s.  It cracks me up, which is why I have ‘borrowed’ it for the last six years.  

Posted in Christmas, Food, Fun, Holidays, MerryMondays, Winter | 8 Comments
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